Matt Prior: Lightweight sports cars remain on top

01 toyota gr 86 front image

The most expensive of supercars will never make you smile as much as one of these will

The two most exciting new cars of the year are now but weeks away.

No, not the Global Motors T-Type, the new company/ family car to be sold in 180 countries in five bodystyles with 17 powertrains and becoming the most important new model of 2022.

Nor the Fandalgini Spectaculum, the limited-edition, £1.5 million, 1000bhp hypercar that laps the Nürburgring faster than a Porsche 956.

Instead, my tastes are a little more modest and, well, you might say parochial, but I will say relevant. For me, the year’s two most exciting upcoming cars are the Toyota GR86 and the Morgan Super 3.

The GR86 is one that we already know quite a lot about. Colleagues have driven it and say it picks up from where the car it replaces, the Toyota GT86, left off.

Which, given that was my favourite car of the past decade, sounds about perfect. It has a modest engine size, modest power, a manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive, and you can switch things off to enjoy its even chassis balance. In short, where do I sign?

The Super 3, though, the replacement for the Morgan 3 Wheeler, is hoping to do rather more than its predecessor, even though it might not look like it.

The 3 Wheeler, whose design originated in the US, felt like a classic from the moment it first turned a wheel. Which was, I suppose, kind of the point.

Its thumping air-cooled V-twin engine was of almost a litre capacity per cylinder, and the resulting torque output was so uneven that it needed a separate system mounted behind it to smooth that out so it didn’t shake its Mazda five-speed gearbox to pieces.

The ride was quite uncomfortable, the driving position lacked adjustment, the grip was limited and the turning circle was measured in furlongs.

I loved it. As with the GT86, it was mostly my fault that it received five road test stars on these pages and is the sort of car that you have to love because of its purity, not despite it.

That might not be such an issue with the Super 3. On the face of it, it’s another three-wheeled Morgan. But most strikingly, it now has a sensible Ford engine (air-cooled engines are no great fans of emissions regulations), which is covered by the body and set further back, because its torque output doesn’t need calming down before it reaches the gearbox – and the advances don’t stop there. They barely start there.

No, the driving seat still doesn’t adjust, but both the pedal box and the steering wheel do.

The wheels still look great but, deceptively, they’re convex, which, matched with ditching the old wire wheels, allows the uprights to move closer to the wheel centre, aiding geometry to improve the handling and decreasing the turning circle.

That’s made smaller again by a narrow body with discreet vanes mounted close to the bodywork, directing air to the radiators.

There’s more: its mounting brackets become Morgan’s first patents in its 112-year history, while this is the first Morgan without an ash-wood frame beneath its body, instead having stressed panels over aluminium castings (rather than a spaceframe), making it a proper monocoque – and one designed with electrification in mind. I’m hooked on the idea.

When I was a kid, you could stick a supercar on the cover of a magazine and I was sold. Today, make it a quirky, light, unpowerful, pure sports car. Who has changed: the supercars or me?

Source: Autocar

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